Rape: Anger must be tempered with sober thought
The Times Editorial: Police in Limpopo have declared war on rape - and yesterday they said they would force all rape suspects to undergo HIV testing.
Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said this would give his officers more ammunition with which to fight the scourge of rape.
"From now on the law will not be lenient on rapists and we will take every possible legal avenue to ensure heavier sentences, especially in cases in which the suspect was aware of his HIV status."
The innovation will be supported by many angry South Africans tired of the increasing spate of rapes, but testing of suspects should not be used as a deterrent. What we need is a change in the value system prevalent in this country.
In a high number of rapes reported to the police the suspect is known to the victim.
It is this information that we should look at.
Without considered dialogue and sober minds tackling this scourge, we are likely to hear strong calls for the return of the death sentence.
It is important that the decision by the Limpopo police be received with caution.
We agree with the many voices in the legal fraternity, and those who work with rape survivors, who have called for the more competent prosecution of perpetrators.
Though the police would find it difficult to act on incidents that happen mainly in our homes, and between people who know each other, the justice system must come down hard on those found guilty of rape.
Yesterday, Minister for Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities Lulu Xingwana called for the reopening of special sexual offences courts.
These courts could play a critical role in fast-tracking the hearing of rape cases and would send a compelling message to South Africans.
Better policing and honest discussion about our value system would go a long way in stopping this terrible crime.